By: S. Kafka, Et Al
High self-esteem is related to a host of benefits, including positive moods, resilience, and initiative. Outdoor-based therapeutic experiences for at-risk youth are widely recognized as a means by which to raise their self-esteem levels. Increased self-esteem, however, may also be associated with several negative outcomes. For example, some research indicates that increased self-esteem may be associated with increased bias and prejudice against other groups, physical and verbal aggression, and engagement in a range of risky behaviors including drug and alcohol use. There is evidence to suggest that these negative outcomes can be prevented through the pursuit of increased self-esteem in a way that does not stress self-esteem as an end goal, but is focused on skill development and positive relationships with others. Existing research has shown outdoor interventions positively affect self-esteem. Developmental sail-training programs are one type of outdoor intervention specifically based on teamwork among program participants. Self-esteem increases resulting from participation in sail-training programs can persist months after program completion. The current paper summarizes three studies investigating the effects of a ten-day developmental sail-training voyage in New Zealand on self-esteem in adolescents and associated negative outcomes. The primary purpose of the set of studies was to establish whether or not self-esteem could be raised and sustained in adolescents, without associated negative outcomes... (Read More).